ISDN is out, modems are obsolete and the lease line just isn't cool enough to access the Net anymore. If you're gonna trip the Web in 1997, you've got to do it ... by satellite.
Satellite Digital Systems (SDS) reckons it has the UK's first satellite solution for accessing the Internet. Using a system called DirecPC, the space age dish can "deliver Turbo Internet access at up to 40 times faster than current modems and up to four times faster than ISDN." Bad news for all three of BT's ISDN sales team.
Even worse for BT's half-hearted task force is an even faster package that delivers up to 3Mbit/s - plenty for any corporate thinking of having the road dug up for a traditional link to the Web. As if that weren't enough, SDS is also offering a multimedia service with "sufficient capacity for live audio-visual broadcasts."
This new generation of Internet access is impressive on paper. For example, Web pages or files being downloaded reach a transfer rate of up to 400Kbit/s (compared to ISDN's piddly 64Kbit/s). In real terms that means a 200Kb image would take 30 to 40 seconds to download with a 28.8Kbps modem (but if you read the design feature last week you'd know images shouldn't be more than 30Kb each), compared to a sizzling two seconds with the satellite.
Not to mention you get a snazzy oval-shaped dish to hang out of your bedroom window - a must for all of you living in high rise flats.
Alan English, SDS' operations manager, promises he can get the 21in dish up within two hours.
But before you go running off to your IT department demanding your very own super bowl, there is a small problem. You cannot upload data.
For many this means the system just does not offer the same functionality as a bog standard modem which connects to your service provider and lets you upload to your heart's content. But this space age contraption is important and signals the ongoing commitment of an industry that has been kicked into shape in less than three years.
Currently, the system offers speed and that's about it. But being so fast it's sure to be developed into a mature solution pretty quickly and that could mean serious problems for ISDN.
Without launching into the academic furore that has surrounded ISDN since it was announced, the technology has never enjoyed the success it deserves and has been stunted by unreasonable pricing. ISDN offers multiple lines and fairly high-speed access, but it is expensive because you pay for the amount of time you are on-line - just like a telephone.
Satellite, on the other hand, is charged by the amount of data you download.
This could be a very powerful consideration for those who spend long periods on the Internet, but not necessarily downloading mounds of data, as is the case with most journalists for example.
I'm not saying satellites will blow ISDN away, but with an extra item to choose from, corporates and small organisations alike have got a high-speed, reasonably-priced alternative to ISDN and other lease line options.
The SDS system, which includes a dish, interface card, software documentation and full installation by a Granada specialist, will set you back #1,150 plus VAT. The subscription costs are either #15 a month (30Mb) or #52 a month (130Mb).
Contact SDS on 01494 455466.
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